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Less than half of savings accounts beat inflation: what’s the answer for savers?

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18/10/2016
Less than half of the savings accounts on the market can beat or match inflation, according to analysis.

Of the 644 savings accounts currently available, just 266 pay 1% or more, data provider Moneyfacts found.

Figures released today show consumer price inflation rose to a 22-month high of 1% in September, up from 0.6% the previous month and exceeding analysts’ expectations.

The surprise inflation announcement comes at the worst possible time for long-suffering savers who are already earning next to no interest on their cash, with the average easy access account paying a measly 0.41%.

Savings rates have tumbled in the last few years and the Bank of England’s Base rate cut in August exacerbated the already dire situation.

In fact, Moneyfacts today revealed that rate reductions in the savings market have now outweighed rate rises for 12 consecutive months.

In September alone, the firm recorded 29 savings rate rises but 164 rate reductions, which translates to around six cuts to every rate rise. Some deals fell by as much as 0.75%.

Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said: “Savers will be hoping for some stability in the market, but this is unlikely to come to fruition any time soon, particularly as some providers have left time between announcing cuts to their accounts and implementing them to give savers enough notice.

“This means that more cuts are expected during October, and if competition continues to drift we could see a substantial number of further cuts made between now and the end of 2016.”

So, what can savers do?

High-interest current accounts

One option is to consider high-interest paying current accounts. However, these are also facing rate chops.

Santander is set to slash the interest rate on its hugely popular 123 account from 3% AER (from £3k-£20k) to 1.5% AER from 1 November. Lloyds and TSB have also announced cuts to credit interest rates in the past few days.

Peer-to-peer lending

Going down the P2P lending route will mean taking more risk with your money but the rates available can be as high as 6%.

P2P works by matching borrowers (both individual and corporate) with savers hoping to get higher rates of interest than from mainstream savings products.

However, despite the fact most P2P platforms have provision funds to absorb any late payments or defaults, your money is not 100% safe and P2P lenders are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme so if anything goes wrong and you lose your money, the government won’t help you.

Investing

Another option is to move further up the risk spectrum and invest in shares or bonds. (It’s worth pointing out that some people think P2P lending is akin to investing from a risk point of view).

With yields on government issued bonds (gilts) exceptionally low, you’ll need to take on even more risk and invest in bonds issued by companies, or stocks and shares.

Calculations by fund house Fidelity show if you had invested £15,000 into the FTSE All Share index 20 years ago you would now be left with £55,351. If, however, you had invested £15,000 into the average UK savings account over the same period, you would be left with a paltry £20,064. That’s a difference of £35,287.

But remember, investing is not a guaranteed way of making money and you could lose everything.

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